Friday Flashback: I left work at 3:30 to get to the expo by 4p when it opened. I had to get in and out before karate class at 6p, which is always a struggle for me to leave because the expos are so much fun, and I usually see a lot of people I know at the Fresno race expos. I picked up my full marathon race bib and then got in the race changes line.
Getting sick after the Exeter half marathon in August and then just generally being lazy after I finally got well really messed up my plan to build distance in my training. By the end of September, I realized it wouldn’t be safe to do the full marathon. I always say that I want to be able to run until I die, and trying to run a marathon with too little training unfortunately wouldn’t kill me, but might injury me to the point where I’d have to give up running.
So I was dropping down to the Clovis half marathon. Thankfully Fresno was offering two half-marathon courses this year instead of just one. The recurring half course is miserable. I think some people run the full marathon just to avoid that half course. Some very loud and deep pockets have protested the course going by their homes one day per year, so it has severely limited the options for the race directors to outline a better course. So when they offered a course going out to old town Clovis, I was excited for the change.
The rest of the expo was great. I saw a few people I knew. My chiropractor was there with a booth, and he popped and cracked me again. There seems to be this one spot in my upper back that isn’t unlocking. He got some good pops Thursday night, and again Friday at the expo, but even that didn’t seem to get all of it. Hopefully it just needs time to settle out.
Then I went over to karate class, and we were doing ducking exercises, killing my quads. And then we learned a new form, very overwhelming the day before the test. But oh well, here goes nothing.
Back to Sunday
I woke up with plenty of time and dressed quickly to get out the door for the race. I was in such a hurry that as I parked I realized I had forgotten my cell phone on the living room table. I actually had enough time to go back and get it, but decided it wasn’t worth the stress. I had a great parking spot close to the start line. I was very early, so I popped in an Adventures in Odyssey cassette and stayed in my car to keep warm.
When I got out and started walking around, I started running into countless people I knew. This is my favorite part of Fresno races: reunions. Seeing friends from other churches, from FPU, from karate, from my old job and clients is a real boost for me.
Since I had a new race bib from switching races, I didn’t have an assigned start corral, so was free to start wherever I liked. I decided to start with Olga, Katie and Olga’s sister Mira. Olga and Katie go to church with me. They pace a little slower than I do, but we’ve been excitedly talking about this race together for the last few months.
Our first mile was a 10:12. Starting out, I was feeling tight but not too sore from the test the day prior, but after that first mile all the pain was gone. So I decided to pull ahead and see what I had in me. I started flying. I hadn’t had this kind of speed since before the Exeter race. I don’t know what happened, but I finally unlocked it all. It was awesome! I had been in the mid-10’s this whole 2-month training period, so frustrated to have lost my speed, where normally I’m in the low 9’s.
Dave & Cheryl were cheering for us outside their house just before mile 2. Then I saw Amy, Christine and their collective broods of 7 children, and they had signs and a line of high fives waiting for me, Olga & Katie. I love it when strangers are out there cheering, ringing cowbells and holding signs, too. My favorite sign from this race was “Run like you stole something!” Amy, Christine and their kids relocated to another spot around miles 5 and 7 (same spot due to the loop), so I got to see them three times during the run. Around mile 8, I saw Jolene and gave her a high five as I flew past. And then Garry brought his girls out to cheer us on at mile 9. I was able to chat with a few of the other runners around me when we were pacing with each other.
I flew across the finish line in 2 hours, 2 minutes, and 8 seconds! Average pace of 9:12/mile, with some laps in the high 8's! I was so excited to have done that well after being nervous about wear-down from the test yesterday. I was just four minutes shy of my personal best time.
I always take a lot of time in cool down, unwinding from a race. And this race feeds us so well, so there’s no motivation to leave. Ice creams sundaes; full breakfast of eggs, hash browns, bagels and orange slices; frozen fruit cups; water & Fluid (a less-pleasant, but not disgusting version of Gatorade).
They offer massages, but I never bother because the wait is so long. I always end up sticking around long enough, but I don’t want to be tied to watching my watch. I stretched, ate and talked with friends as they finished.
Katie and I walked over to get our free beer from the pavilion area. Our race bibs said a free beer or glass of wine, but we couldn’t find the wine, so we settled. Still a refreshing reward. Then I gave Katie a ride home since she had walked over to the start of the race.
I cleaned up, rested a bit, and then headed out again to a fundraiser dinner for Young Life, a youth outreach that my friend Tiffany supports. Sadly a very boring and poorly structured presentation, but the food and company was good.
An awesome whirlwind weekend. I was a little stiff through Monday, particularly my quads, but I was pretty much back to normal by Tuesday.